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Gran Cuova 2004
January 20, 2005
12:28 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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Just tried the Gran Cuova 2004. It's quite different from the 2003 bar. The 2003 bar was quite spicy, somewhat like a Chuao light, with some fruit added. This one has a distinct taste of walnut and raisin (somewhat "Scharffenbergerish"), is slightly sweeter, but with an even more "chocolaty" taste in the middle. I think I liked the 2003 slightly better, but that may be just because they're different. Still very good and the best of Valrhona's bars (unless they have made magic with Ampamakia 2004, which I haven't tried yet) and a real up-turn after the too sweet and slightly candy-like Palmira.

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
January 20, 2005
1:23 pm
alex_h
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i like this bar a lot as well. nice chocolatey taste, not as subtle as the 2003. but other than that i don't really notice a big difference. but i wasn't really looking.
the new ampamakia struck me as quite sweet. either it is, or i am just not used to it anymore.

January 20, 2005
11:44 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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I agree this year's is better - finer beans I think (less of a forestero note). They did make some magic with Ampamakia, I like this year's the best of all the vintages so far - very light beans, like a very pure criollo. It's not a strong chocolate though.

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
January 24, 2005
10:32 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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Tried Amapamakia 2004 this weekend, and I disagree with Martin. It is too subtle - the big, fruity, acidic explosion that used to hit is more or less gone - it sort of reminded me of Amedei's porcelana! Slightly nutty, some typical valrhone fruit, but not superb.

Or may be they packed a wrong bar in the wrapping???

I note that all the three single estates from Valrhona has a quite walnutty taste this year - could it be that they have changed production method or something?

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
January 25, 2005
2:20 pm
legodude
Norway
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May 21, 2004
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Less acidity and more nuts could indicate harder roasting of the beans. I think it was Montegrano who mentioned that harder roasting takes away some acidity.

"I`ve got lots of friends in San José. Do you know the way to San José?"
January 28, 2005
10:56 pm
marioh
Bonn, Germany
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The first Gran Couva I tasted was the 2001. Compared with the earlier ones the 2004 really makes the biggest difference. I’m not sure whether I like the chance. The 2003 was great. For me personally it is difficult to find the correct words to describe the taste of chocolates. But I would say it had a special nutty aroma with I really like (and to take polarbears description a kind of spicy). The new one is not that strong in aroma and it had chanced to a more elegant taste. Elegant is a very unspecific word, but what I want to express is, that the 2003 was “wilder” and a little more individual. It was different from any other bars, a typical taste. As I tried this years I did not thought it is Gran Couva. I personally do not know what they have chanced, but the San Juan Estate is famous for its large diversity of really great trinitarios. So I do not know whether there are any forasteros in the bar. But you never know?!
Some ideas to the 2004 Ampamakia. As I see it, the bar is really better then the last. It’s more balanced. Not only fruity but some hinds of nuts. For me a better overall impression. It’s not the fruity explosion, but still an aroma bomb, isn’t it?
Until now I’m really disappointed from the Palmira. It’s a good chocolate but no great characteristics, only a good chocolates taste, that’s it. But I have to say, that I have not tasted it that often. I have to make more studies [:D]

January 31, 2005
12:27 pm
alex_h
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i think i have come across the same thing as you, martin and polar: a miswrapped valrhona. in this case i think it was an ampamakia in a palmira's clothing.

June 3, 2005
11:04 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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I finally got my hands on one of these, and I have to agree with everyone else that 2004 is dramatically different than 2003. 2003 was lighter and had more of a gianduja-like flavor, whereas 2004 is much more chocolaty with a more full-bodied and thicker flavor, yet it still retains a slight butter-like coolness throughout. The texture is also much thicker than 2003 (and thicker than all other Valrhona chocolate for that matter), but I happen to welcome this slight deviation wholeheartedly. I can't say which year I prefer, though, but I definitely love the 2004. It's surprisingly strong for a 64% too. Overall, it's definitely Gran Couva; the flavors match too closely for it to be anything else, but this one is just heartier.

June 4, 2005
12:49 pm
chocolatero
london
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FYI gran couva is one of the chocolates from valrho that
does not have much added cocoa butter
therefore much thicker; OK for bars and interiors but not much moulding or enrobing.
chocolatero

June 4, 2005
3:06 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Yeah, I definitely suspected that, and Palmira is another bar without added cocoa butter. Texture-wise, it's comparable to Gran Saman.

June 4, 2005
3:14 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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I have to somewhat agree with Marioh regarding Palmira. I'm still a bit uncertain about it as well. I only had one bar, and I'm not sure whether or not I should like it. I don't feel as I fully grasped its characteristics quite yet.

June 5, 2005
2:29 am
marioh
Bonn, Germany
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It’s hard to name, but I would say that the Palmira is “sweet”, perhaps too sweet. I do not feel eating a chocolate with a cacao content of 64% (that is not meant in a positive way). It tastes as if there is too much sugar (which, of course, might not be the reason). Apart from that, the chocolate is not that bad. It has some really nice flavours. My opinion is more or less changing every time I taste the Palmira again. I have never had such an experience with any chocolate before. But I cannot decide whether I like it or not (which sounds a bit strange, I think). But finally I would say it is a good chocolate, which you should have tasted.

June 5, 2005
4:30 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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I got the same impression from Palmira too, and that certainly causes some of my uncertainty. However, it might not necessarily be the sugar that causes the sweet sensation, but rather I think it's the gritty texture along with the actual flavor of the chocolate. I've written a review that explains this, and Martin will eventually post it - I know it takes time! [;)] - but here's what I think the problem is: I think the association with gritty sugar, along with the more delicate and tart flavors of the chocolate combine to create an effect of cloying sweetness. To provide a contrasting example, Gran Saman is also gritty, but it's more intense and assertive, so as a result, the sweetness sensation isn't present. Besides, any chocolate with a naturally light character and flavors similar to Palmira will taste "sweet," especially when the cocoa content is 64%. To counter, Gran Couva 2004 is considerably strong for its percentage, and so I wouldn't increase it even by 1%. It's perfect as it is. I don't know if raising the cocoa content on Palmira would be wise (not that you or anyone else suggested it, of course!), but I would assume that such actions would only intensify the sweet sensation because, after all, you are concentrating the cacao's actual flavor properties.

June 5, 2005
4:33 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Of course, additional cocoa butter could be added to smoothen out the texture, and that might help a bit. But in the end, Marioh, I think we stand in agreement...or ambivalence rather!

June 5, 2005
12:56 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Palmira's too sweet for me as well, i'll never buy it since 1st tasting. I feel that more robust beans could "take" sugar, but more precious and delicate beans should be treated less and have less sugar, because they already not as astrigent to start with. 100% chocolate mass of the good beans treated by Domori is delicious ;)

June 6, 2005
5:54 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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That's a tricky thing, Ellie. After a long trip through many, many, many Ecuador chocolates, I came to the conclusion that the 70% range is not the most suitable, whereas the 80-90% range is ideal. Nacional cacao is already quite strong, somewhat bitter, and contains a comparatively low amount of natural fat (roughly 40-45%), the latter of which produces a dryer texture. Well, in the 70% range, the flavor might be okay, but companies often add too much cocoa butter to produce a smoother texture, which consequently subdues the chocolatiness. And the extra 10-15% sugar content doesn't help either, especially when combined with the additional cocoa butter. At 80-90%, however, the sugar is at the right percentage to allow for extra cocoa butter to smoothen out the texture, yet still allow the overall chocolatiness to shine through wonderfully.

With Palmira, I think that if Valrhona added extra cocoa butter, the flavor would have been even more subdued! I admire their decision to forgo the addition of cocoa butter, which thereby produces the gritty texture, but then I think the cocoa content should have been increased slightly to cut back on that sweet sensation that so many of us do not appreciate. It will be interesting to see what 2005 brings us with Palmira.

Gran Cuova 2004 | Fine chocolate bar discussion | Forum